Exploiting Tragedy By Blaming Technology

from the whatever-gets-the-page-views dept

Earlier this week, an 18-year-old deaf girl in Austin, Texas, got hit by a train as she walked along some tracks, and was killed. Likely because of her role as Miss Deaf Texas, the case has gotten some national media attention, and has been featured on the front page of the CNN web site. Today, there's another story there, with the headline "Deaf beauty queen was text-messaging when hit by train", followed with a lead that further infers the text messaging had something to do with her death. Forgive me for explaining the obvious, but it's pretty much completely irrelevant that the girl was sending or reading text messages when she was struck -- from behind -- by the train. Remember that she was deaf? Her death resulted from a tragic set of circumstances, but CNN has to blame something, apparently, to keep people's interest, so why not the text messages?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    JustMe, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 11:26am

    Blaming technology?

    Is this really a technology-related post or something to fill space?

    CNN never "blamed" the phone or text messaging for the accident, they simply "played on readers' emotions" by relating the fact hat she had just texted her loving family to give her a ride moments before her death.

     

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  2.  
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    Rally, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 11:41am

    Bad Taste

    This story brings new meaning to the phrase: "Deaf and dumb"

     

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  3.  
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    Joe Smith, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 11:48am

    Darwinism in action

    It may seem cruel but you have to ask why a deaf person was walking on train tracks.

     

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  4.  
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    mkam, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 11:53am

    Re: Blaming technology?

    I disagree. I think CNN, just by wording the title the way they did, have implied a causal relationship between text-messaging and getting killed by trains.

    I will agree that in the article they play with the heart strings of talking to the family at the last minute. Sad to say but this may be Darwinism at work, if I couldn't hear I would probably not walk on railroad tracks.

     

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    JustMe, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Re: Blaming technology?

    "I think CNN, just by wording the title the way they did, have implied a causal relationship between text-messaging and getting killed by trains"

    "Deaf beauty queen was text-messaging when hit by train"

    Maybe she was hit by the train because she was a beauty queen? The headline mentions that as well...no one would ever tie the deaf part to the reason she was hit, huh...these damn misleading headlines.

     

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    awhite, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 12:05pm

    Blame where blame is due

    What does a "deaf girl" use in place of hearing to keep herself safe? Maybe this is naive on my non-hearing impared part, but I think it would be her sight.

    Seems to me that text messaging while walking, or while standing on railroad tracks is relevant to the story. Not that the technology is to blame, merely the object of her distraction.

     

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  7.  
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    JustMe, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Blame where blame is due

    "What does a "deaf girl" use in place of hearing to keep herself safe? Maybe this is naive on my non-hearing impared part, but I think it would be her sight."

    Exactly...text messaging or not, a deaf person should probably not walk on train tracks alone. From the wording of the story, she had finished her messaging when she was hit...it seems to have absolutely nothing to do with the actual accident.

     

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  8.  
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    Sparky, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 12:28pm

    Maybe...

    she was texting to find out the train schedule. and when the cell provider took too long to get the message back to her phone, she got hit? blame t-mobile!

     

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  9.  
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    Devious, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 12:37pm

    Blame whoever you can...

    CNN is a right-wing liberal bunch. They seek to blame anybody they can just create a stir. Just like they were the First to blame Bush for sending the Hurricane to New Orleans. Maybe he did it from a train using a text message......

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Blame whoever you can...

    right wing liberal? wha? that's some feat to pull off.

     

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  11.  
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    PsuedoDragon (profile), Mar 15th, 2006 @ 12:58pm

    Why???

    If your deaf WHY would you be walking on train tracks to begin with??? In the words of Carlos Mencia Dee Dee Dee.

     

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  12.  
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    Mike, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 1:10pm

    CNN is desperate of course

    Okay, for the semi intelligent that understands physically impaired people. When you lose one sense you heighten others. You can not tell me that she was so mesmerized by the texting that she could feel the vibrations from the train. Yet of course maybe CNN should spend more time and money on why idiots shouldn't talk on a cell phone and drive on the road. Boycott CNN!!! I do!!!

     

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  13.  
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    Dude, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 1:10pm

    This is Ridiculous

    Umm, the article hardly mentions let alone BLAMES text-messaging. And it's not hearsay either -- the departmental detective has a quote stating the fact. And even if in someone's mind CNN might be insinuating a casual link between the accident and the cellphone, there is a link! ie. that she WAS in fact texting when she got hit! And frankly, deaf or not, someone is not likely to get hit by a train this way unless they are distracted. The media twists a lot of stuff, but they aren't the ones making a story out of nothing here, you are.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 1:27pm

    The moral of this story according to CNN...

    The moral of this story...

    "IF YOU WANT TO LIVE, DO NOT TEXT-MESSAGE ...SINCE EVERYONE KNOWS THAT TEXT-MESSAGING INCREASES YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING HIT BE A TRAIN"

    ...according to CNN.

     

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  15.  
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    Just an observer, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 1:40pm

    aw, come on...

    If you reduce the headline to its elements, " hit by while , it's easy to see that the thing here is that a person got hit by a train because of distraction, regardless of anything else.

     

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  16.  
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    Dan, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 1:43pm

    Trains

    Having lived close to some rail road tracks while in school (I'm talking 10 feet away here) I have to say that it is easy get "snuck up on" by a train if you aren't paying attention. But since they are so big and loud in most people's experience, most don't realize how quiet they can be as they are approaching you, especially when traveling at speed.

    She probably thought she'd be able to feel the vibrations long before a train got close enough to her, so that she'd be able to move out of the way. A 19 year old freshman was killed near my place in a similar scenario, and he was able to hear just fine.

     

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  17.  
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    Zeroth404, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 1:53pm

    Exploiting Tragedy By Blaming Technology...

    The girl obviously isnt to freakin bright.

    If you're deaf, are you going to sit on train tracks and text message your friends?

    seriously, this girl died because of a little thing we call "Natural Selection"

    Call me insensitive, but this girl obviously lacked intelligence.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 2:01pm

    Um, deaf or not, the Darwin awards apply - trains are dangerous, and equal oportuntiy killers to those who choose to walk in their path.

    So lets forget the technology, forget that the was deaf (it really has no bearing here), and take this as a lesson:

    DO NOT WALK ON THE TRACKS LEST YOU MIGHT GET HIT BY A VERY BIG VERY HEAVY TRAIN

     

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  19.  
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    billy jones, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 2:15pm

    Texas

    You have to keep in mind that we are talking about someone in Texas. This is a state where you would walk up train tracks with your head up your butt. I know of this other guy from Texas who regularly rides a mountain bike and usually gets road rash on his chin when he crashes. Too clueless to put his hands out when he falls I guess.

     

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  20.  
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    Rob, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Darwinism in action

    I tend to agree. At what point do people have to take responsibility for their own actions? If you have a peanut allergy, DON'T EAT unknown foods. If you are deaf, DON'T WALK ALONG RAILROAD TRACKS.

    (Hell, if you are not deaf..don't do it!)

     

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  21.  
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    reasonablue douche, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 2:30pm

    doesnt matter what cnn says - if a law can't get people to stop talking on their phones while driving, why would a headline make an impact? blame as much as they want even if they meant it or not, the only meaning it has is what you give it with all the attention it is getting... i doubt that it has any affect other than causing a few people to comment about its true conspiratory meaning haha. amusing. meanwhile, the cellphone companies won't be affected either way. maybe theyll have to ban cellphones for disabled.

     

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  22.  
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    Pesti, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 2:31pm

    Hmm, let's see ..Deaf, walking on train tracks,....talking with family...
    ....maybe..suicide.......Just a thought

     

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  23.  
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    Andrew Strasser, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 2:41pm

    I don't think the blame lies with the text messagi

    I think it lies with the people on the other end that didn't have the sense she obviously wasn't capable of thinking for herself walking along railroad tracks needing a ride. If anything praise God she could've had a chance had someone been smart enough to tell her not to walk down the tracks because she may not hear the train coming.

     

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  24.  
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    aj richards, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 4:17pm

    comment

    we dont walk on the freeway, why would we walk on train tracks. You know that evetually a train will come ( because your on train tracks).

     

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  25.  
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    farlane, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 4:18pm

    At least she wasn't on myspace

    Can you imagine the outcry?

    "Deaf beauty queen was uploading racy photo to MySpace when hit by train"

     

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  26.  
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    nismoto, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 4:32pm

    Cruelty

    Some of you people are too damn cruel. A young woman died.
    Did she die because she was stupid? NO.
    Did she die because she was texting? NO.

    She wasn't walking ON the tracks, she was walking along the tracks. The "plow" attached to the front of the train that extended past the sides of the train is what struck and killed the woman.
    Did she die because she was deaf? YES: she didn't hear the horn.

    Does the article infer that texting killed her? NO. But it does play on the readers' emotions by connecting her and her family with a "last goodbye", if you will.

     

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  27.  
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    mr obvious, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 5:17pm

    you folks haven't looked at the picture that came with the story!


    She was BLONDE!

     

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  28.  
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    Leonard Anthony, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 8:22pm

    Re: Cruelty

    Oooh! My turn!

    A young woman died.
    Did she die because she was stupid? HELL YES.

    Maybe it should have read: "Deaf Beauty Queen, Dumb as Well?"

     

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  29.  
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    mark, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 8:32pm

    Mentioning text messaging was almost certainly intentional and intended to get people talking, blogging, if not thinking, about another "cellphone while driving" issue. MSM stirs things up as soon as one topic cools down, they can turn the most tenuous of links into another evil to be legislated out or lives. The poor girl could have been counting railroad ties, reciting poetry, compiling a grocery list, all in her head, and she would've met the same tragic end. Media has always had a big problem leaving the celebrity dead alone.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 8:35pm

    Re: This is Ridiculous

    She was deaf and struck from behind. The device had no bearing. The rest of us don't have that excuse for our encounters.

     

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  31.  
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    Paul, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 8:43pm

    Natural Selection

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 8:51pm

    Puh-leez

    OK....
    Was this girl stupid to be walking on or near railroad tracks? Yes! How far out do these things extend? No more than 2 feet on either side would be my guess...What deaf idiot walks 2 feet away from railroad tracks?

     

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  33.  
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    randomboy, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 1:48am

    DUH

    She was deaf, to text messaging was all she had. It's not like she could have called her family as an option.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 3:06am

    Um, do I have to be the one to state the obvious?

    If she hadn't been messaging, she might have been more aware of her surroundings and the risk she was in. People who are busy doing one thing, whether they are deaf or not, whether they are walking near train tracks or not, are not busy doing other things, like paying attention to whether trains are about to run them down, or whether they're about to walk into traffic (I saw that one yesterday - dude 'berrying walks out into intersection without realizing the light was against him - no blood, just lots of head-shaking), or whether a piano is about to fall on their &^%$%^& head from the second story of the building they're walking by.

    Just because it's tech oriented doesn't mean you have to reflexively protect it. It can take care of itself.

     

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  35.  
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    DoxAvg, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 4:55am

    It seems to me that there might be some causal link here; she was either committing suicide, or wasn't paying attention as she should have, considering the circumstances. I think there's a reasonable link between texting and not paying attention to your surroundings.

    That aside, it brings to mind a great piece on the difference between correlation and causality, especially when the correlation itself is spurious: The Arrogant Worms' "Don't go into politics":
    George Washington was the president
    But now he's dead (dead)
    Mackenzie King was Prime Minister
    But now he's dead (dead)

    So don't go into politics
    You'll end up dead

    ... and so the song goes. (http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Don't-Go-Into-Politics-lyrics-The-Arrogant-Worms/9398D6E9849 115C248256B260026D735)

     

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  36.  
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    Zeroth404, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 6:10am

    "You have to keep in mind that we are talking about someone in Texas. This is a state where you would walk up train tracks with your head up your butt."

    So you're saying everyone in texas is a moron?

    I'll refrain from agreeing so I don't get flamed :-)

     

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  37.  
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    Jeremy, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 6:26am

    Re: Texas

    Not nice to stereotype just because you know 1 or 2 idiot's from a state. I know a lot of idiots from a bunch of states and I don't think that the people from their state are idiots as well.

     

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  38.  
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    Jeremy, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 6:26am

    Re: Texas

    Not nice to stereotype just because you know 1 or 2 idiot's from a state. I know a lot of idiots from a bunch of states and I don't think that the people from their state are idiots as well.

     

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  39.  
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    billy jones, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 6:57am

    Texas

    Well it's true that there are idiots in every state. But they all eventually find their way to Texas.

     

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  40.  
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    Zeroth404, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 7:56am

    "Not nice to stereotype just because you know 1 or 2 idiot's from a state"

    I'm sorry if I've offended anyone, thats not my intent/

    "Well it's true that there are idiots in every state. But they all eventually find their way to Texas."

    Nah, just all the republicans.



    No, I'm not a democrat.




    No, I'm not a republican.

     

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  41.  
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    Andrea, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 10:19am

    As a former teacher of Tara, she was by no means DUMB and for those of you who feel that deaf and dumb is an acceptable way to label deaf individuals I feel sorry for your ignorance. Tara was a bright, beautiful girl who had a wonderful future ahead of her. This tragedy has impacted our community greatly and she will be missed. So please DON'T judge her or the Deaf community when you have NO experience with either.

     

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  42.  
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    Zeroth404, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 10:37am

    "As a former teacher of Tara, she was by no means DUMB and for those of you who feel that deaf and dumb is an acceptable way to label deaf individuals I feel sorry for your ignorance. Tara was a bright, beautiful girl who had a wonderful future ahead of her. This tragedy has impacted our community greatly and she will be missed. So please DON'T judge her or the Deaf community when you have NO experience with either."

    If you are who you say you are, I am sorry if my comments have upset you. As I only have this article to go on, I'm sure you can understand why I said what I have.

     

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  43.  
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    bill jones, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 11:47am

    dumb?

    It's interesting that the only person who mentioned DUMB was Andrea the 'teacher'. However, if I personally have offended you. Good.

     

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  44.  
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    Rally, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 11:58am

    Re: Andrea

    "...So please DON'T judge her or the Deaf community when you have NO experience with either."

    ~ That's very insightful of you. Well done for not considering anyone else in this thread as having experience with deaf people or being deaf themselves. And as for the Deaf community? This is an individual case where one person who is deaf got herself killed. The people on this board have responded as such and have not discussed the Deaf community as a whole.

    I feel you shouldn't bring your same embittered attitude from one news site board to the next and make wild accusations on the people who post here.
    Doesn't the fact that the 40+ people that have posted here show you in some small way we all actually care?

     

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  45.  
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    Andrea, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 12:52pm

    Ok obviously you have all not read all of the comments above because there were several people who made comments about her being dumb. When you make comments about someone being deaf and dumb, yes that includes the whole community. How is calling a person deaf and dumb, showing you care? And if you have had experience with deaf or knew deaf people you would know it is not appropriate and is distasteful.

    This story brings new meaning to the phrase: "Deaf and dumb"
    These were your words.

     

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  46.  
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    Rich Zellich (profile), Mar 16th, 2006 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Deaf beauty queen was text-messaging when hit

    > Her death resulted from a tragic set of circumstances, but CNN has to blame something, apparently, to keep people's interest, so why not the text messages?


    There was no tragic set of circumstances. She was stupid enough to walk on the railroad tracks, even though she was deaf and obviously couldn't hear a train coming. The only thing to blame was _her_ - and it's not particularly tragic (except to her family), just "evolution in action". Train 1, Idiot 0.

     

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  47.  
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    OHCODA, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 1:27pm

    variety

    to Zeroth404 re: not to freakin bright...it's too bright

    and others:
    the police not CNN are who said she might have been distracted

    there are not vibrations on tracks

    and she wasn't walking ON the tracks, there was an oversized snow plow that extended 16 inches over each side of the car, so I'm sure she was along the side of the tracks where she thought she'd be fine

    read one of the articles

     

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  48.  
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    Zeroth404, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 1:44pm

    "and she wasn't walking ON the tracks, there was an oversized snow plow that extended 16 inches over each side of the car, so I'm sure she was along the side of the tracks where she thought she'd be fine"

    Woo! 16 freakin inches! thats almost a foot and a half! She was standing RIGHT on the edge of the tracks.

     

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  49.  
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    Zeroth404, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 1:46pm

    to further my last commet:

    "... McAvoy, who was estimated to be "no more than a foot" from the tracks ..."

    right from the article.

     

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  50.  
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    wildbill1979, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 4:07pm

    trains are quiet

    my wife almost got hit by a train at a unguarded crossing. she was only saved by a warning from a pedestrian on the other side of the tracks

    trains only blow their horns at guarded crossings, and they aren't audible until they are passing you, not before. it's not like in the movies where trains always make a racket.

    with that said, the cause of death here was stupidity, not texting, and not deafness. come on...who walks that close to train tracks?!

     

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  51.  
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    Justin, Apr 23rd, 2006 @ 7:52pm

    Actually, they're not "inferring" anything. Inferring is how you interpret something. They are IMPLYING. Please get your vocabulary straight before jumping on your soapbox.

     

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  52.  
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    Steven, May 10th, 2006 @ 3:31am

    Re:

    Snow plow? Why need it in Texas? Snowing there at that time?

    Making no sense at all.

     

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